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Surgery

Our state-of-the-art surgical suite allows us to perform a wide variety of surgical procedures both major and minor. Please inquire as to the types of procedures we perform.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of your time to fill out paperwork. When you pick up your pet after surgery, you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.

We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have. If you have questions before then, please don't hesitate to call us at any time.

Pre-Surgery Steps

You want your pet to feel comfortable before, during and after the procedure. That's our goal, too. Today's modern anesthetics have made surgery much safer than in the past.

We will do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of complications. Every pet is required to have blood testing before surgery. Even healthy animals can have serious complications that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is an issue, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Surgery can usually be postponed until the problem is corrected.

For older pets or pets with preexisting medical conditions, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, x-rays, or ultrasound may be required before surgery as well.

It's important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for your pet until the morning of surgery.

A catheter will be placed prior to surgery to administer intravenous fluids during the procedure. This helps maintain blood pressure and proper hydration.

Types of Anesthesia

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.

Pain slows healing, decreases activity, causes behavior changes (such as aggression, anxiety, and depression), worsens diseases like arthritis and potentially some cancers, and interferes with the bond between you and your pet.

Our job is to decrease the amount of pain your pet experiences during and after surgery.

Local anesthetics (the most widely known is Novocain) numb sensation to a particular area – they may seem feeble, as anesthetics go, but they are actually the only type of anesthetic that completely blocks pain perception.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.

What other decisions do I need to make?

When a pet is under anesthesia, there is an ideal opportunity to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. It is also a good time to screen for hip dysplasia if you have a large dog or if dysplasia is common in your breed. This can be accomplished easily by taking an x-ray of your dog's hips.

If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.

When will my pet go home after surgery?

All routine surgeries (spays, neuters, growth removals, dental procedures) go home the same day. You can call after 3 p.m. to see what time your pet can be released.

Postoperative Care

As your pet is being discharged from the hospital, we provide you with detailed information on how to properly care for your pet at home after surgery. We are also happy to answer any questions or concerns that may arise once you get your pet home.

We also try to discuss nondrug methods like exercise and physical therapy when appropriate after surgery. These therapies help maintain strength and flexibility, and reduce the amount of drugs needed to control pain.

We use an advanced, multimodal protocol to prevent and treat pain in our patients. Whenever possible, we use a combination of local anesthetics, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and narcotic pain relievers.

We use narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs and cats. These patches provide continuous pain relief for up to three days. The cost of the patch will depend on the size of your pet. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. We provide whatever pain relief is appropriate for your pet.

NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Examples of this type of drug are aspirin, ibuprofen, and Celebrex. In general, NSAIDs for human use are not considered safe for dogs and cats. We use several different veterinary NSAIDs for pain control (Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Metacam are the most common).

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery. The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $15, depending on the size of your dog.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears to be in pain will receive additional pain medication.

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